The Yorta Yorta Nation- origins and connections
The Yorta Yorta Nation traces its origins back to the time of creation which has become immortalised as the ‘eternal Dreaming’. It was during this period that traditional based rights to land, heritage, water and cultural identity were sanctified and, like the river systems, continue to flow to the Yorta Yorta people as inherent rights. The extensive river networks served as major focal points for community life. Archaeological evidence indicates that there have always been natural and cultural changes taking place, from which adaption and cultural continuity have been the outcomes. The arrival of Europeans, however, has intensified the extent of change, but the Yorta Yorta have adapted and continue to flourish as a vibrant living culture. They totally reject the notion that their connections have been washed away by ‘tide of history’ euphamisms and reassert their position as the traditional occupants and owners of the lands inherited from their ancestors. Reconciling the unfinished business of land justice and reaching a position of real effective and genuine reconciliation, together with the search for common ground in the creation and management of the Barmah-Millewa National Park Wetlands, are the challenges that confront all parties in the region.
The Barmah-Millewa Forest Wetlands is a natural and cultural landscape of unique Red Gum Forest Wetlands. Indeed they are of profound National and International importance and are located in the heartland of Yorta Yorta traditional lands-see map on site. These forest wetlands are now being replenished by the significant rainfalls that have fallen during the winter which will provide a lifeline for the red gums and their survival of the drought that has had lasted the last decade of more. More detail will be added on land and water based issues and their importance to the Yorta Yorta on this site.
Students participating in the course get an opportunity to visit some of the key sites and learn of the antiquity of Yorta Yorta connections with the ancestral lands which is estimated to be at least 60,000 years.
Traditional Fishing in Bark Canoes on the Murray (Dhungulla) at the Old Maloga Mission, 1870s
Once a timeline of Yorta Yorta occupation is established students are then introduced to the diversity of programs and service delivery organisations that operate in the region. This helps students gain a deeper insight into the roles and functions of community based organisations and the multitude of programs that they deliver in 21st Century Indigenous Affairs policy and administration not to mention the difficulties that organisations face in maintaining these programs in regional Australia.
Different Approach to Learning
The course is unique in its teaching content and style. It utilises much of the knowledge and storylines of Yorta Yorta History and Culture which includes Oral knowledge which is supplemented by the disciplines of Archaeology, History, Politics, and Legal studies. The main issues that it focuses on are Indigenous rights based issues, including land, water, cultural heritage, natural resource management, and environmental issues.
Forest Wetlands and River Based People
Gaka Yawall Ngulla Yenbena Yorta Yorta Woka: Come walk with us the people on Yorta Yorta country
Dr Wayne Atkinson-Yorta Yorta Elder
Senior Fellow, School of Social & Political Science
University of Melbourne